March 04, 2014

My Championship Experience – 2014 Women’s Indoor Track and Field Edition

My Championship Experience is a diary blog written by Summit League student-athletes detailing their experiences at each of the 19 Championships.

North Dakota State junior Emily Lesser writes about her experience at the 2014 Summit League Indoor Track and Field Championships:

First and foremost, I would like say thank you to The Summit League. These championships are some of my favorite memories of track and field thus far. Another big thank you goes out to the coaching staff here at NDSU. I can confidently say that my team is a group of the hardest working people I know, and that has been instilled in us by our coaches who don’t just talk about it, but they show us what hard work and excellence is every single day. To coaches Justin, Ryun, Stevie, Lars, Trevor, Andrew, and Coach Nap, thank you. And to my team, I’m beyond blessed to be surrounded by a group of such amazing individuals. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to push each other to be the best we can be. Thank you.

7:15 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26 – Day 1
My alarm went off at 6 a.m. this morning and it was surprisingly easy to wake up. Probably because I was so excited to head to Fort Wayne, Ind., for the league meet. This was my first indoor championship in a couple years since I redshirted last indoor season.
The most difficult part of the travelling process this morning was trying to figure out how to keep all the checked bags under 50 lbs. When you’re travelling with 35lb and 20lb weights and 16lb and 4kg shotputs it can get difficult. Needless to say our math skills were tested. Eventually, we figured it all out. We were now in the Fargo Hector International Airport waiting to board our plane to get out of this frozen tundra!

11:10 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26 – Day 1
It’s been a long day of traveling. We got on the plane in Fargo, N.D. at 8 a.m. and got into Indiana at 5 p.m. It’s always a fun day though because my teammates are never boring to be around. Once we got settled into the hotel rooms, we were off to the track to do a shakeout. I always have a hard time sitting for extensive periods of time, so getting to the track to move around was quite the treat. We warmed up and got to do a few sets of turns in the ring. It was a bit of a teaser since we didn’t get to throw anything today; hopefully tomorrow we can toss a few.

After we were done at the track we got dinner and headed back to the hotel for the night. My favorite part of the night would have to be FaceTiming along with my teammate Ashley Heinze into our Blue Key Honor Society meeting. I love that technology wouldn’t hold us back from getting to be in the weekly meeting. That part was a blast because our “blue peeps” are the most high energy and kindest group of people that I know. Now, it was time to rest up for another day of competition prep tomorrow.

10 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27 – Day 2
Today was a great and relaxing day. In the morning we went to the track for an easy shakeout and a couple throws. When we are tapering it’s all just about getting our bodies moving and activated. We have been working so hard for so long that a good taper makes our bodies feel AMAZING. After we left the track, we went for some lunch and then it was just a good day to hang out. A lot of the Bison were scattered around the hotel lobby working on homework and studying for the majority of the day. The league meet always means missing out on a little bit of school so it’s just a matter of good time management and staying ahead in classes.
Later, I went to dinner with my parents. They are the most supportive parents I could ever ask for. They drove from my home town near the Twin Cities this morning just to come watch the meet. We had a team meeting in the coaches’ hotel room and then it was straight to bed for this girl. I’ll be doing a lot of mental throws in my head tonight to prep for the weight throw competition tomorrow!

10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 28 - Day 3  
Coach St .Clair, Brandt Berghuis, Brian Blasey and I went and got our implements weighed in this morning and did a nice pre-meet. I had a couple of hours until we head to the track. Until then I just read my Bible for a little bit. It’s great to know that whatever we do it’s not for ourselves but for God’s glory. It makes it easier to step into the ring with confidence because the Living God has complete control J  There’s a reason I wear my “I Am Second” bracelet every day. It’s a good reminder.

10:45 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28 – Day 3
Today was a great start to the league championships for the Bison! I’m so excited to have gone in and performed like I did. For the first time I’m walking away from this meet with an individual title. This year I’ve been able to trust my training and believe that I’ve done everything I possibly can to prepare for this meet, which is a huge step up from previous years on the mental toughness scale. As far as the throws themselves, they felt consistently great. With that being said, I’ve been blessed with an amazingly fun talent. After Katelyn Weimerskirch and I did work (her placing sixth place as a freshman.. rockstar), it was the guys’ turn. The bison men throwers were able to come out and throw real far. Brandt placed second, Trevor Berner placed third, and Josh Eiler placed fifth. Brian and Alex Renner both threw well for themselves and being freshmen they are young and have insanely awesome futures in the throwing ring.

Before we left the hotel earlier this morning I had found the scripture “Be strong, and let your heart take courage” –Psalm 31:24 and I thought about that a lot throughout the day. We have trained hard all year, every single day we push our body to the limits only to wake up sore and do it again. Now, all we have to do is take a leap of courage to go out and lay it all on the track. We capped off the day with a team meeting and Coach Ryun Godfrey discussed how it takes courage to go out and compete (convenient, right?). I get so inspired by my teammates who are able to race hard and leave every ounce of their heart out on the track. We may do solo events, but I love this meet for the fact that we can join together and bond under the common goal of winning the team league title. Today was a great start, but we have work to do tomorrow as well.

8:45pm Saturday, March 1 - Day 4
So, today was a blast. My team was able to pull off our seventh-straight league championship. We really all came together as a team on the track and in the field and I couldn’t be more blessed to be a part of it. Personally, I was able to pull off a championship title in the shot put to add to my weight throw title yesterday. The margin was small.. second place went to Shelby Assmus of South Dakota State and it was a GREAT competition. She is a sweetheart and always a pleasure to compete against. My throws were alright but I had fouled a really good one, which is always a bummer. The men’s shotput was a blast. Watching our boys dual it out with passion and class was the highlight of my weekend for sure. I train with these guys every day and they deserve every personal best that they were able to throw.

Another highlight would have to be watching Maddie McClellan absolutely WORK each and every track event she competed in (1 mile, 3k, 5k). She won individual titles in each of them. You guys, that’s so many left turns… wouldn’t you get dizzy running that fast in that many circles? Either way, she’s pretty much my hero. Watching the Bison women take every running title except for the hurdles was so exciting!

The Bison throwers have come a long way in the past couple of years, but they are a young bunch. I would expect a lot from them in the upcoming years. It’s an extremely hard working group of people. I’m just absolutely honored to be a part of it. Right now, we are on our way to Indianapolis where we will spend the night before flying out first thing in the morning. I’m not looking forward to that slight reality check about missing a half a week of classes. This upcoming week will consist of a lot of time spent making up classes. I have to admit, though, it was worth every single second of it. I’ll be redshirting the outdoor season, but I hope to get as many meets in as possible despite the tendency of Fargo having miserable weather in the spring. See you next year, Summit League!


Don’t forget to check out the next edition of My Championship Experience as it follows the Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships, March 8-11 and throughout the 2013-14 season for coverage at each of The Summit League Championships.

March 03, 2014

My Championship Experience – 2014 Women’s Swimming and Diving Edition

My Championship Experience is a diary blog written by Summit League student-athletes detailing their experiences at each of the 19 Championships.

South Dakota State junior Lexi Laird writes about her experience at the 2014 Summit League Swimming and Diving Championships:

As I began my third Summit League Championship, I not only felt prepared but with the championship being held at IUPUI, I felt I had the “home court advantage”. Thankfully Indianapolis was warming up from the sub-zero temperatures we had earlier that month. I had two exams the day before our championship, but I had made sure I was mentally ready to race the next evening.

Wednesday night finals began at 6 p.m. and I would be swimming the backstroke leg of the 200 medley relay. Before the relay that night, I was less nervous than usual, maybe because I was in my home pool, but I was unsure if this was a good or bad thing. We began the walkout for the 200 medley relay and the natatorium filled with a roar of cheering teams, family and friends. At that moment, I finally believed it was Summit League Championships, what I had trained all year for had come so fast and I had never realized it. Being a junior, the league championships had been held at the same site the past two years so this was a new atmosphere for not only the freshmen and sophomores but for myself. When I swam the 1st leg of the 200 medley relay, I put us in second with a time that was a personal best but was not satisfactory to me. My teammates on the relay put together some amazing splits and we ended up placing second in the 200 medley relay and nearly broke our record set last year by 0.35 seconds.  Our 800 freestyle relay that night swam phenomenally and broke our school record by more than four seconds. The energy from that night is what brought us into the next day with confidence.

On the second day the ladies came in strong and put together some great swims all around. Jenny Oleksiak and I swam times that placed us second in our third best events, which came to us in much surprise. The 200 freestyle relay came out with energy and confidence, and because of this we broke a record that hadn’t been broken since my freshman year. Due to these and other strong swims, we put ourselves good position to place well in the whole conference.

On the third and fourth day we had amazing swims as we did on Wednesday and Thursday, but we lost second place behind Denver. Maranda Buha had come off a serious surgery and several months out of the pool and dropped a second off her personal best time from high school. Her perseverance through this inspired me in so many ways. She was not the only lady that fully amazed me through their determination and I admire all the Lady Jaguars for that. Throughout this year, we have created an amazing support system that I have not yet seen in my three years here at IUPUI and I’m excited to see it grow into something bigger than ourselves.

I had amazing swims, like my 50, which I dropped a half second and placed second and disappointing swims, but throughout everything my teammates supported me. As I finished the championship and reflected back, I was slightly disappointed about things. I think that never being satisfied is not only a great characteristic in myself, but in all of the IUPUI ladies. The Lady Jaguars put together a great performance this year at the league meet and I am so proud of each and every one of them. We, unfortunately, fell to South Dakota State and Denver, but we plan to come back next year stronger and larger in numbers.

Don’t forget to check out the next edition of My Championship Experience as it follows the Indoor Track & Field Championships, Feb. 28-March 1 and throughout the 2013-14 season for coverage at each of The Summit League Championships.